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Secret agent Maitland takes on Glasgow pals


Maitland: Ready for another tough test. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Maitland: Ready for another tough test. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Not even two weeks will have passed by when the next chapter of rugby’s Anglo-Scottish rivalry kicks off, but today will have to go some way to surpass the Calcutta Cup draw witnessed in the final day of the Six Nations.

Saracens and Glasgow Warriors have developed a rivalry over the last two years that stands as the little brother in the battle between England and Scotland. This will be the fourth time that the two have met in the Heineken Champions Cup in three seasons, and the fierce desire to get one over the auld enemy goes for the club game just as much as it does the Six Nations.

But if the European quarter-final is to live up to the barely believable 38-38 draw at Twickenham a fortnight ago, it will be some contest.

Scotland looked like they were dead and buried at 31-0 down, but miraculously they led 38-31 with five minutes to go. “I honestly couldn’t tell you what everyone was feeling,” says Sean Maitland, Saracens’ Scottish secret agent in the ranks who is looking to inflict another defeat on his former side Glasgow this weekend.

The incredible turnaround has been difficult to explain for those involved. Finn Russell, the Scottish fly-half who turned the game on its head and took home the man of the match gong in the process, revealed that he believes a heated argument with head coach Gregor Townsend was partially to credit.

But the Six Nations is a chapter that is done and dusted and it’s club rugby duties between now and the end of the season, which means Maitland must now don the Sarries cap.

The familiarity spreads not just for Maitland in facing the club he represented for three years, but also in that these sides played out two brutal encounters in the pool stage. When Glasgow reached the last eight of Europe for the first time, Saracens were waiting and inflicted a crushing 38-13 defeat on what was then Townsend’s side.

It was the first match this season that proved the most punishing. “That first game there was definitely an edge to it,” recalls Maitland. In total, six Saracens left the field injured as they won 13-3.

“There was a lot of off the ball stuff, a lot of pushing and shoving,” Maitland recalls. Yet if it all gets a bit too physical on today, Maitland will not be too concerned. There are friends on both sides of the field. “This is the business end, isn’t it? Knockout rugby. The boys are just excited to be back.” (© Independent News Service)

Saracens – A Goode; S Maitland, A Lozowski, B Barritt, L Williams; O Farrell, B Spencer; R Barrington, J George, C Judge; W Skelton, G Kruis; M Itoje, J Wray, B Vunipola.

Gasgow – S Hogg; K Steyn, S McDowall, S Johnson, R Hughes; A Hastings, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson; T Swinson, S Cummings; R Harley, C Gibbins, M Fagerson.

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  • Saracens v Glasgow Warriors, Live, BT Sport, 3.15

Irish Independent


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